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Australia must ensure safety of asylum seekers

National

The Australian Government has been called on to do more to ensure the safety of the 2000 plus people who remain in offshore processing in Papua New Guinea and Nauru.

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In a statement released yesterday, the chairman of the Bishops Commission for Pastoral Life, Sydney Auxiliary Bishop Terence Brady said asylum seekers who remained in offshore processing and were attempting to come to Australia for safety and a better life “deserve better”. He called on the government to assist in their quick resettlement and provide options for families to reunite.

Bishop Brady referred to comments made by Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, who said on Monday that Australia’s policy of offshore processing in Papua New Guinea and Nauru “has caused extensive, avoidable suffering for far too long”. Mr Grandi said the asylum seekers had already been subjected to four years of “punishing conditions” and it was the most “humane and reasonable” thing that they should be reunited with their families in Australia.

“People seeking asylum are often vulnerable members of our global community,” said Bishop Brady. “It is imperative that they are treated humanely with options for settlement in safe countries and where no one is sent to a country or place where they may face further persecution.

“Australia, if it is to be committed to its international obligations, must work with countries in the region and non-government organisations to ensure the safety of those seeking asylum in our region.

“Whilst it is important to prevent the loss of life at sea, it is equally important to provide adequate care for those in offshore detention. Australia needs to take responsibility for those in offshore detention and provide them adequate amenities, and provide quick resettlement options.

“I urge the Australian Government, to assist in the quick resettlement of those in Papua New Guinea and Nauru, provide options for families to reunite, and to endorse programs that both protect lives at sea and in its care.”

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